Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Christine Amsden, Author of 'Kaitlin's Tale'

Book Title: Kaitlin's Tale
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Author: I didn't have a choice about writing this book after I wrote the Cassie Scot series. See, Kaitlin was a sidekick. A secondary character. Cassie's best friend. That's it. Or at least, that was supposed to be it. But as I got to know her she became too big to be a footnote in someone else's story.

Is this your first book?

Author: Not even close! This is my 8th book. My first book, Touch of Fate, was published in 2006. The Immortality Virus came out in 2011. Then the four books in the Cassie Scot series plus the first spin-off, Madison's Song, came out in a whirlwind between 2013 and 2015.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Author: Small press. Twilight Times Books has been my publisher from the beginning, and we've developed a good working relationship.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Author: As I said, I've been with a small press from the start and at times it feels like the best of both worlds. At other times, the worst.

On the upside I am traditionally published, my book is available in print and ebook through the major distributors, I have been reviewed by reputable sources, and my publisher takes care of the printing and packaging process. Unlike with big presses, I get a lot of personal attention and I get to keep a much bigger percentage of my royalties. I also have ebooks available at a reasonable price (something major booksellers are still not willing/able to do). Plus, my old titles are still in print. (Big presses sometimes give you a few months then stop printing/distributing your titles even though the rights haven't reverted back to you.)

On the downside, I don't always fit neatly into either “traditional” or “indie” categories. When it comes to marketing, though, I usually look at indie advice because I put in that kind of work. Getting books in stores is something I have to do door to door, and some doors are closed to me.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Author: Work hard. Try your best. But know that sometimes books sell, and sometimes they don't, and you usually won't know why. You can either obsess about that (and I do) or get back to writing (which I eventually do).

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Author: Yes, as long as you're careful and know what you're getting into. The small press world in particular is full of disreputable publishers and upstarts. Do your homework. Find out who's legit and who's not. Predators and Editors is a good resource.

For the record, Twilight Times Books has been around since 1998 and has a lot of respect. I recommend them, but again with your eyes open: You'll have to work hard.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Author: Write because you love it. Don't get into this to make money, because you probably won't. You can dream, but if you're not drawn to writing in and of itself you'll never survive the journey. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with j.d. daniels

Namejd daniels
Genre: Mystery
Publisher:  Savvy Press
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
I’m one of those writers who is compelled to write by her muse.  For years, I lived the life of Super Mom and wife.  When my kids were in junior high, I went back to complete my college degree.  I completed my undergraduate degree, then my masters.  When I was offered a fellowship to pay for doctoral work, I grabbed it.  I began teaching writing.  While doing this, I free wrote with my students at the beginning of each class to loosen up their imaginations.  That practice changed my life.  My muse or demon, whichever you want to call her, broke free and I mean FREE!  It was a physical, emotional and mentally painful experience.  I’ve been writing ever since.  I guess she was in some kind of coma all those early adult years—now she won’t be denied. 
Quite honestly, the first time I saw my words and name in print, I was hooked.  When you spend hours writing a novel or a mystery, it is natural to want to have it read by someone besides yourself and your writing group. I know plenty of writers who write, but never want to be published.  That’s fine—for them.  Me? I want readers. I guess you could say I like validation for my work.
I stepped up to the challenge of learning the craft of writing mysteries after I sent a manuscript for a mystery to a New York editor way too prematurely in my career. Lou Aronica sent back my critique and ended with these words, “I’m not sure you have the DNA to write a mystery.” Ouch!  After I got over that ego hit, I realized that just because I liked to read and watch mysteries on TV did not mean I knew how to write one.  I took his challenge and went to work learning my craft.  I’d been teaching the need to study the genre of what they were writing for years.  Why hadn’t I followed my own advice? How embarrassing.  I straightened my shoulders and vowed to listen to and practice what I preached.
A mystery has certain conventions that need to be followed.  I learned them.  I also began to study the mysteries I read from a writer’s perspective. Doing this made all the difference.

Is this your first book?

No, I’ve published four other books:  a book of poetry, a biography, a novella, and the first mystery in this series.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

I am published by the independent press, Savvy Press long with their imprints Gowanus Books and SAGA SF. I spent years attempting to land a traditional publisher for my books without success.  I was lucky enough to finally meet Ellen Larson, an editor for a young adult traditional publisher.  She read my work and liked it and suggested I publish with the independent publishing company she and another writer established in 2002. 
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
I have published poems and short fiction in several literary journals, both in print and online since the late eighties. I published my first poem in a literary venue while a graduate student.  Great feeling.  I received my doctorate from Drake University with a book-length manuscript of my own poetry. I never attempted to put them in book form as I was too busy using a journal to find out who I was.
I’ve had two agents who were not able to find publishers for my books. Bummer. I received grants from the Iowa Arts Council and my college to research and write The Old Wolf Lady, a Biography.  I spent copious hours and much money attempting to land a traditional book publisher on my own.  No luck. Didn’t stop me writing and publishing small pieces or working at learning my craft.  
One day on the tennis court (Yes, exercise is a part of my writer’s life.  I am a good boss, after all) I met a woman who with another writer had started an independent press in 2002.  She read my work, liked it and invited me into the Savvy Press corral. Along with Savvy Press’s imprints Gowanus Books and SAGA SF I’ve published with them ever since.   Great to be there.
Happy how publishing has changed my life?  Absolutely.
If a traditional publisher knocked on my door and wanted to publish my work, would I say yes?  Of course, if the traditional publisher had a great reputation and track record and the contract was good enough.  Traditional publishers have more resources and more money to devote to promoting their authors.  They also give advances.  Independent presses are for the off-the-grid writer who is resourceful and can figure out ways to promote their work without the help of those advances. 
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Lesson One:  It’s tough to break into the traditional publishing industry, especially when you don’t follow the rules from day one.
Lesson Two:  If you can’t land a traditional publisher don’t give up on publishing. 
Lesson Three: Be persistence. Be willing to work to honor who you are and what you do.
Lesson Four: Look outside the box.  The publishing industry has, and will continue to change.  This change is a positive for writers who have previously been ignored by traditional publishers.  Catch the ring and climb on the horse. 
Lesson Five:  Develop a thick skin.  There are still those who look down on independent presses. Shame on them. Just like the respected independent film industry, there’s a respected independent press industry.  I’m proud to be part of it.  
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Absolutely.  There are many independent publishers.  Do your research.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Write, Michelangelos, write.
Living the writer’s life, following your heart, serving your passion—these things are far more important than getting published.
But to move from a writer to an author?  Best Advice: Make it happen.  Don’t skip steps in the process. Today, it is more than possible to be an author, but you want your book to honor your hard work.  And once it does—Enjoy your journey.




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets: Charles Leon Fantroy Jr., author of 'My Life: Poetic Literature'



Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. was born and raised in Washington D.C. His journey through the trenches of a Federal Penitentiary started at seventeen years old. He honed and practiced his writing skills during his years of incarceration behind the four walls of Leavenworth, as a way to express himself. Now at the conscious age of thirty six, he has finally perfected his true passion, which is to share his rhythmical array of completed poems, fictional novels, as well as full length movie scripts. He has continued to educate himself in completing eighteen months at Stratford University as a certified internet specialist. Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. is soon to be released from prison where he looks to delve into a bright future of continuing to write quality novels and movie scripts as well as being a positive influence to society.

For More Information
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Charles: My journey has been a long one, and through my journey I've documented my thoughts over the years in a way that some may refer to as spoken word poetry. Initially the thought of publishing my poems wasn't a thought. But the more and more I've realized that the words I've penned onto paper can possibly have a positive  influence on someone, at that second the decision was made to share my thoughts with the world.
Is this your first book?
Charles: Yes this is my first published book.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Charles: I am published through a traditional publication company. I chose JourStarr Publications not just because the timing was right, but because of the professionalism in which the company presented themselves.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Charles: A number of years ago I was sought out by a well known publication company, in regards to one of my novels that I had written. It was a humbling experience, but inevitably I turned the offer down.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Charles: Well, I've learned first and foremost, that the first deal from a publication company isn't always the best deal. I would advise all authors to know their worth in respects to their body of material. I believe that the publishing industry is blossoming with promising authors. As long as publication companies don't sacrifice quantity over quality.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Charles: Yes, I would recommend the traditional way of publishing for any one who is interested. There is nothing at all wrong with self publishing in my eyes. But if you're dealing with a traditional publication company, you have a broader outlet in regards to marketing, distribution, and a whole slew of knowledgeable professionals who are adapt in the field of literary writing.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Charles: First, I would say to believe in yourself, because if you don't believe in your own craft, how can you expect someone to believe in you. Secondly, don't get discouraged, continue to write and once that first book is published then you've completed a spectacular feat, making the journey all worth the while.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Randy Rawls, Author of DATING DEATH

Name: RandyRawls
Book Title: DATING DEATH
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author: I've been an avid reader all my life and wondered many times whether I could write a book. I started several during various stages of my career, but usually gave them up for lack of time. Finally, in the 1990's, I started one and, a year later, wrote THE END. That was my proof I could do it, and I've been doing it since. As for this book, it's book 3 in the Beth Bowman series. Like all my books, it's taken from news headlines.
Is this your first book?
Author: No, there were eleven (11) published before this one, two in the Beth Bowman series. Plus some others buried on my hard drive, never to see the light of day.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: DATING DEATH is published by White Bird Publications, a small press based in Austin, Texas. They are an independent publisher, catering to excellent authors in different genres. I was impressed with White Bird Pubs. It was the first time in my publishing experience that one of my manuscripts received three (3) edits from three (3) different editors. They were very professional in their approach to publishing, yet very cooperative.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: About every twist and turn you can imagine. After banging my head against the "traditional" publishing world, I opted to self-publish my first book—JAKE'S BURN, an Ace Edwards, Dallas PI story. That was long before the epubishing craze of Amazon and Barnes and Noble were dreamed of. JAKE'S did okay, so I self-pubbed the second in the series, JOSEPH'S KIDNAPPING. They gave me the credentials to impress an independent publisher, and the Ace Edwards series became more legitimate. That's been pretty much my track record since. Trying to break in on the "traditional" publishing world, while nibbling around the edges with independent publishers. After Amazon and the others came along and introduced epublishing, I even did a couple of books with them. And, I also got lucky and had the first two of my Beth Bowman books traditionally published.
          Pros: Using the opportunities I had, I've been able to have a dozen books published, DATING DEATH being the latest.
          Cons: The small presses don't have the assets the big guys do, neither in money or contacts. Thus, the author is pretty much on his own with promotion and book-selling opportunities.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: Every writer's dream (at least, my dream) is to land a lucrative contract with a big NYC publisher and to watch my book receive first-rate promotion. Yet, to land such a contract, one must have an agent. And, to get an agent, you have to offer far more than a good book. You must be in a position to offer long-term income to the agent. Investing in a one-book wonder, or someone past the prime of life is not a successful way for an agent to survive. Every writer needs to know this and be prepared to go it on his own. The small, independent publishers are golden. They are our best opportunity to move forward. And, for the very lucky, it might be the door that opens the way to an agent and that lucrative contract with a big NYC publisher. It has happened before. It can happen again. 
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Yes, but only after you've tried the traditional routes. Patience is the key. It's hard to let your manuscript languish on your hard drive while the biggies are pushing out books of less quality, but you must do it. Give it a year, maybe two years. If you haven't connected by then, look for a small press. Then, as a last resort, self-publish.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Have patience and see the previous paragraph. The road to being published is long, twisting, and, often, ridiculous. You must have the stamina and the patience to weather all the storms along the way. Don't expect to rich or famous. Simply enjoy the writing and the fans who adopt you.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Rosie Claverton, author of Captcha Thief (The Amy Lane Mysteries #3)

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Crime Scene Books
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Rosie: I've always written stories. I was an imaginative child, and used my primary school “show and tell” to create the most outrageous tales. I messed around with novels throughout my teenage years, but I decided to take novel-writing seriously when I was finishing university. I saw a career of medicine ahead of me, and the creative side of me rebelled. I wanted to be a doctor and  a writer!
Is this your first book?
Rosie: Captcha Thief is the third novel in The Amy Lane Mysteries, but it's my first paperback publication. The first two novels Binary Witness and Code Runner were ebook-only releases. I also have a number of finished and unfinished projects in the virtual desk drawers of my laptop.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Rosie: The Amy Lane Mysteries started with a digital-first press attached to a large publishing house. That was a fascinating experience for a first-time author and I formed good relationships there, particularly with my editor Deb Nemeth. Alas, they didn't want to continue the series, so I had to consider my options. Crime Scene Books are a small independent press, and the editor Sarah Williams approached me, as a fan of the first two novels. I leapt at the chance to continue the series. I'm enjoying knowing everyone in the process of creating my novel and being one of a few authors valued by my publisher.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Rosie: I gained my first book deal by pitching on Twitter! My editor liked the concept of Binary Witness and I was offered a two-book publishing contract. I tried to find an agent at this time, but with the tight deadline, I wasn't able to fully pursue that avenue.  I don't regret starting out with a digital-first press and learning my author lessons there, but I'm glad I'm moving on from that to a small independent press. I wish I had held out a little longer for an agent and I'm still hunting for that perfect agent partner to champion my next novel and to be my ally in navigating the world of publishing.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Rosie: Regardless of the way you publish, the author is responsible for a lot of self-promotion. I hadn't realised that when I wrote the book. My knowledge of the world of publishing has improved dramatically with experience, but I should've gone in with my eyes open.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Rosie: I think that depends on your goals as an author. If you want your book in every shop with adverts on the Tube, you need a Big 5 publisher. If you want to be solely in charge of your own book destiny, and willing to put in all the work, you need self-publishing. If you want something in between, you should look at digital-first and small press publishing.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Rosie: Before you look for an agent or a publisher, or make a decision about self-publishing, read everything by highly-successful and midlist authors about how that's working out for them. The best people to look at are the hybrid authors in your genre, who have both traditionally-published and self-published novels. But first, and most importantly: FINISH THE BOOK. It may only be the beginning of the journey, but it is the only essential step!



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Sylvia Dickey Smith

Book Title: Original Cyn
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publishing
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Sylvia: Well, you know, you can talk about writing a book only so long. I realized I had said it one time too many when a dear friend told me to stop talking about writing a book and put my rear in the chair and write it. Guess you could call that a “Put up our shut up.”
I penned this book out of a passion for questions. The first half of my life I’d been given answers that at mid-life no longer fit my questions. This story is about a woman much like me, who allowed her parents and then her husband to spoon-feed her pabulum. (Do parents still feed their children that stuff?) When events outside her control shatter her world and the answers no longer fit, how does she find her way out of the chaos?
Is this your first book?
Sylvia: No it isn’t. This is my seventh book. Four novels and a cookbook in the Sidra Smart Mystery Series and the WWII homefront historical fiction, A War Of Her Own.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Sylvia: I chose Indie press, White Bird Publishing. I chose White Bird because I was impressed by their commitment to not only publish, but to also market the book by personally attending book festivals all over the country. I was also impressed with their quality and responsiveness.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Sylvia: Wow. Big question. I suppose my journey has taken me down as many paths as exist in the business. After close to ninety rejections, I landed an agent for my first book,
Dance On His Grave, only to learn the adage, a bad agent is worse that no agent. We parted ways and I began the process of sending out another large number of query letters. My next agent seemed like she was ‘heaven sent.’ A few months later I discovered that no news is not always good news. The agent had closed her business three months earlier and not let me know.
After that, I approached a small Indie press who offered me a contract and published the first three of the Sidra Smart series. Later I moved to another Indie press.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Sylvia: I learned the publishing industry is not for the faint of heart. Plus, I learned the only way to go is to let each rejection you receive serve as fuel to the fire. Let the “No thank you” letters make you more determined to keep at it. When Neg Letters come, send out ten more query letters. Determination, persistence and bull-headedness works.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Sylvia: Indie publishing? Most definitely, for without them, many exceptional books would never get published. Authors write because they can’t not write.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Sylvia:

  • Write without blinking.
  • Continue to hone your craft.
  • Become part of a good critique group.
  • Associate with other writers.
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
  • Read your final copy out loud—every single solitary word—before you send it out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Clea Simon, Author of 'When Bunnies Go Bad'

Name: Clea Simon
Book Title: When Bunnies Go Bad
Genre: cozy mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author: I’ve always been a writer and storyteller, and I’ve been writing mysteries for more than 10 years now.
Is this your first book?
Author: “When Bunnies Go Bad” is the sixth in my Pru Marlowe pet noir cat cozy mystery series.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: I prefer to be traditionally published, and Poisoned Pen Press is a highly respected mystery-only publisher.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: I started as a journalist, so I knew something about writing and rewriting and revising and rewriting and… best advice I can give  is keep at it. And listen when you get criticism. Your first draft is just that. Everybody needs to revise (and revise and revise).
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Yes. It is harder, but you will produce a better book.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Keep at it and listen to your critics. Revise and rewrite – it will make your book stronger and more fun for the reader.